What is Unique about the MHRP Program?
This comprehensive, multidisciplinary study recognizes the shared concerns of the Department of Defense and the manganese industry. To that end, the program (MHRP) combines human studies and animal models to perform exposure and risk assessments, basic science research, and technology sharing, and a knowledge center for all matters pertaining to manganese health research. One of the primary purposes of the MHRP is to promote and facilitate interdisciplinary research that expands the ability to address issues of the environmental health impact of manganese exposure. The MHRP represents the first attempt to nurture an environment in which creative scientists that are already committed to deciphering the health effects of manganese or related disciplines will have the ability to establish formal collaborations. Through formal collaborations producing joint publications and future grant proposals, or via less formalized routes, such as advice, assistance with techniques, or intellectual exchanges by e-mail or at conferences administered by the MHRP, the MHRP will lead over time to additional formalized interactions and a growing number of collaborative research efforts. These endeavors will further stimulate meritorious and timely research to characterize manganese exposures and health effects. An improved understanding of the health effects of manganese will result in refined occupational exposure standards, lead to the development of a prototypical risk assessment for an essential nutrient that considers both toxicity and essentiality, and consider whether exposure to an essential metal can lead to an increased incidence of neurodegenerative disease within industrial cohorts exposed to manganese in the workplace, including defense personnel.
The MHRP involves a multi-center study of manganese-exposed workers (welders, ferroalloy workers, chemical workers, and miners), determining neurological endpoints (dose-response/Non-Observable Adverse Effect Level), and featuring common protocols for: exposure assessment and exposure reconstruction methodologies; evaluation of neurological and health end points; and use of biomarkers for the diagnosis of the potential adverse effects of manganese. Furthermore, the studies will ascertain whether the relative risk for the development of Idiopathic Parkinson’s Disease (IPD) is increased in a cohort of welders, addressing a contemporary occupational health concern. Mechanistic studies will be performed in rats to identify the reciprocal relationship between iron and manganese, as well as kinetics of manganese in the brain. Additionally, research will be performed to elucidate cellular processes involved in the uptake of inhaled manganese by the olfactory pathway. A research activity awareness service will be created as a web-based central resource for research information on manganese, serving to further education, awareness, communication, and technology transfer. Taken together, the MHRP possesses unique strengths and attributes that have yet to be replicated in other studies.